Underground Power

A once-in-a-generation project with Western Power to deliver affordable underground power to the City of Vincent is underway.

Western Power, the State Government and Vincent have committed to converting distribution powerlines to underground power, delivering reliable and safe power while improving street appeal and allowing the tree canopy to flourish.

By undergrounding power lines, we're not only improving safety and visual amenity, but also increasing capacity, which can be used to host more rooftop solar, electric vehicles and other tech. More circuits, larger cables, and innovative network design means Western Power can better manage energy demands and power us towards net-zero.

Council’s vision in its 10-year Strategic Community Plan is for Vincent to be a leafy and vibrant 24-hour city synonymous with quality design and sustainability.

Undergrounding power will help achieve this vision quicker than any other single project in our history.

Project Areas

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North Perth / Mount Hawthorn
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North Perth / Mount Lawley
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Perth / Highgate
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Leederville
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Mount Hawthorn (South Scarborough Beach Road)
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West Perth
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North Perth
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Mount Hawthorn (North Scarborough Beach Road)
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FAQs

Benefits

What are the benefits of undergrounding power?

Underground power is designed to deliver reliable and safe power, while improving your street appearance and opportunities for emerging technologies. Benefits include:

  • Improved public safety – with better street lighting neighbourhoods feel safer. Other general safety benefits include reduced electrical contact injuries, and reduced motor vehicle and power pole collisions.
  • Reduced environmental impact – less use of herbicides (weed control) and pesticides (termite control) around wooden power poles.
  • Greater reliability and security – once power is underground, you’ll experience fewer disruptions after major storm events, which means reduced likelihood of unplanned power outages.
  • Improved street appearance – no power lines create a more aesthetically pleasing neighbourhood.
  • Increased property value – the absence of poles and wires, new street lighting and improved tree canopy has a positive impact on property values.
  • Reduction in street tree pruning – property owners and Local Government save on street tree pruning costs, while also allowing the tree canopy to flourish. The City’s saving on tree maintenance after the undergrounding power project is completed is estimated to be up to $600,000 per year.
  • Reduction in street lighting energy use and maintenance costs – new streetlights installed as part of the undergrounding program will be more energy efficient and require less maintenance. Following the completion of the undergrounding power project, greenhouse gas emissions from streetlights will be reduced by around 35% (equivalent to 1.4 tons of CO2 per day). Cost savings are expected to be around 30%, equivalent to $243,000 per year at 2022/23 energy prices.
  • Lower life-cycle costs – underground power has minimal maintenance and operating costs and avoids costly and complex pole replacement.
  • Future technology - helps pave the way for innovation and caters better to future power demand. Undergrounding increases capacity for emerging clean energy technologies, which will help deliver the Western Australian Government's goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

How will underground power affect my property’s value?

The Economic Regulation Authority’s 2011 inquiry investigated the overall costs and benefits of the State Underground Power Program and identified an increase in property value for property owners when power is undergrounded.

This increase was attributed to the combination of benefits arising from undergrounding, including safety and amenity.

A recent review undertaken by KPMG found that undergrounding increases a property's price by 3.1% on average.

Based on the 2023 median house price in Vincent ($1,142,500) this average increase in property value is equivalent to $35,417.

Are there any drawbacks to undergrounding power?

Impacts for residents include the initial cost, though this does represent an investment in the longer term. The Economic Regulation Authority’s 2011 inquiry investigated overall costs and benefits of the State Underground Power Program and identified an increase in property value for property owners when power is undergrounded.

Support is available, with Vincent committed to offering ratepayers the option of a longer payback period.

Other impacts include potential disruption or inconvenience associated with construction works, including dust, vibrations, noise, and traffic management. These will be minimised as much as possible.

What would happen if we didn’t underground power?

Undergrounding power in Vincent is a ten-year program. Several areas targeted for earlier implementation have overhead infrastructure coming to the end of its service life.

If we don’t take this opportunity to underground power now, Western Power will replace this infrastructure on a like-for-like basis as it needs to be replaced. There isn’t going to be another opportunity to underground power for approximately 50 years.

There are also sound economic and environmental reasons to take this time-limited opportunity such as reduced lifecycle and maintenance costs, improved reliability of power supply and a level of infrastructure which will be more compatible with emerging technologies.

Project Areas

What is the Underground Power Program?

The City of Vincent’s Underground Power Program is being delivered in collaboration with Western Power, and this $170 million Program is currently underway.

Western Power and Vincent have committed to work together toward converting overhead distribution powerlines to underground power, delivering reliable and safe power for almost 16,000 properties in Vincent across eight project areas.

Is underground power coming to my area?

In May 2022, Council authorised the CEO to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for its first three project areas in North Perth/Mount Lawley, North Perth/Mount Hawthorn, and Perth/Highgate.

In December 2022, a second MOU was signed for a further five project areas which will cover Leederville, Mount Hawthorn, West Perth, and North Perth.

Timing

When is underground power coming?

Design work is currently underway for the first three project areas. Construction is expected to commence in the second half of 2024 for project area one (North Perth/Mount Hawthorn), in 2024/2025 for area two (North Perth/Mount Lawley) and in the first half of 2026 for area three (Perth/Highgate).  Each project area will be completed within two years from commencement.

Project area four (Leederville) is also due to start in 2026, followed by area five (Mount Hawthorn – south of Scarborough Beach Road) which is due to start in 2027. Both projects are expected to be completed in 2029.

The three remaining project areas will start in 2030 with all of Vincent to have underground power by the end of 2031.

Proposed timelines are subject to change. Information on our website will be updated regularly for each project area.

Fees and Charges

Who is paying for underground power?

Western Power and Vincent have committed to work together toward converting overhead distribution powerlines to underground power, delivering reliable and safe power for almost 16,000 properties in Vincent across eight project areas.

The cost of this major project will be shared between Western Power and ratepayers:

  • Western Power will fund part of the network charge.

This is the cost of removing power poles, placing overhead distribution cables below ground, and installing new streetlights. This cost will vary by project area.

  • Ratepayers will fund the balance of the network charge, plus a connection fee.

The connection fee is the cost of underground cable connection between your own property and the new network i.e., between the Green Dome located at the boundary of the property and the building(s).

Ratepayers will pay one single service charge, which is the combined total of the network charge for their area and applicable connection fee for their property.

If I already have a green dome, will I still need to pay?

If the meter box at your property is already connected via underground cable to a ‘Green Dome’, you will not be charged a connection fee, however you will still have to pay the balance of the network charge.

              

I’m a pensioner and/or Seniors Card holder, will I need to pay the full amount?

Property owners holding either a Commonwealth Pensioner Concession Card, or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card together with a WA Seniors Card will be entitled to a 50 per cent discount on underground power charges, proportionate to their share of the property. If you choose to pay by instalments this 50 per cent discount is available for each year instalment payments are applicable.

State Government Seniors Card holders can access a fixed rebate of $100, for payment in full, proportionate to their share of the property.

Visit ConcessionsWA for more information.

 

If I live in Highgate East and have already paid for underground power, will I need to pay again?

Residents in Highgate East who have already paid to have power undergrounded will not be required to pay again. Only residents receiving underground power as part of this Program will pay for infrastructure costs (network charge and connection fee).

 

What are the estimated costs to ratepayers in each project area?

The cost per property will range from $3000 to $9000. Most properties are expected to fall in the middle of this range. The higher end of the range will apply to less than 8 per cent of properties.

Ratepayers should wait before making financial commitments or plans as Western Power will provide more accurate estimates in future.

 

When and how will I have to pay?

There are no financial implications to ratepayers in the 2023/24 financial year. Charges for the first project area (North Perth /Mount Hawthorn) will be issued in July 2024. Charges for the remaining areas will be issued in the years that follow, as each project area progresses from design to construction.

As the total cost of undergrounding power will vary for each of the eight project areas, property owners will pay different amounts. All applicable costs (network charge and connection fee, subject to an existing Green Dome connection) will be factored into one ‘service charge’.

To support the payment process, the City of Vincent has adopted a financial model to guide the roll-out of underground power. We recognise payment may be difficult for some, so the model includes options for ratepayers to either pay their service charges upfront or choose a four-year payback period.

As well as using funds from our Underground Power Reserve and Tamala Park Land Sales Reserve, Vincent will be borrowing funds from the Western Australian Treasury Corporation (WATC) to support this longer payback period. Ratepayers choosing the four-year payment option will therefore be charged interest. Interest rates will be subject to applicable WATC rates at the time.

 

Why did the City of Vincent put 2.1% of rates towards Underground Power in Financial Year 2022/23?

As part of the 2022/23 budget, 2.1 per cent of rates (median cost per ratepayer of $29) went towards the Underground Power Reserve. This reserve is not an underground power service charge or levy. It enables us to offer residents in current underground power project areas the option of paying back their costs of underground power over a longer period.

The extended payback option is, in effect, a loan from the city. It will be recouped once the eight underground power projects are completed. These funds will then be used towards projects which benefit the whole Vincent community.

Construction Impacts

What will the construction works mean for me?

Western Power aim to minimise any impacts of underground power works to your property or business. Their contractors and the City of Vincent will keep you informed with regular updates on each stage of construction.

Contractors generally work within regular construction hours.  If after hours work is required for public safety reasons, Western Power will work with us, and other relevant authorities, to schedule the most appropriate time and inform you prior to these commencing.

While work is being carried out there may still be some construction impacts:

  • Noise, dust, and vibrations may all be a part of construction, but Western Power contractors will undertake works in accordance with standards and with a detailed management plan.
  • Noise impacts will be minimised by only using equipment that is well maintained and fit for purpose, as well as scheduling times to have the least impact on you.
  • To complete the work safely, traffic management will be in place to manage traffic and pedestrian flow. Please take care around work sites and follow relevant signage.

Streetlighting

Will the new streetlights be in the same place as current lighting?

It is unlikely a new streetlight will be placed in the same position as a previous streetlight. With every project, a new LED street lighting system is designed and installed to the latest Australian Standards. Each project is different, and the positioning of new streetlights is reviewed during the design stage.

 

What will the streetlights look like?

There are two designs of streetlights, one for main distributor roads, which is considerably higher, and a more decorative, lower height design for local streets.

Streetlight design (12.5m high) – main distributor roads

Streetlight design (6.5m high) – local streets

 

How will the quality and level of lighting change?

The new streetlights will be designed and installed to the latest Australian Standards. This means that in most streets, the level and quality of lighting will improve noticeably. Streets will feel safer, while the amount of unwanted light scatter will be reduced. The new LED lights will have a warm colour temperature, which is generally perceived as less harsh than cool white lights, which have been used in the past.

Where can I get more information?

The underground power project will be carried out in stages. At the start of each stage, you’ll receive notification prior to works commencing, explaining what will be done and how it may impact you. Contacts for specific enquiries are as follows:

Enquiry Type Contact Organisation Contact Details

Project works impacting you

Contractor - when engaged Not yet available
Project costs and funding (not yet available) City of Vincent

(08) 9273 6000

mail@vincent.wa.gov.au 

Underground Power - General Information Western Power

13 10 87

Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm


Latest news

Underground Power

Vincent adopts Underground Power Financial Model
Posted 10 July 2023 Vincent adopts Underground Power Financial Model

The City of Vincent has adopted a financial model to guide the roll-out of its underground power project across residential streets and town centres.

Underground power coming to Vincent
Posted 14 December 2022 Underground power coming to Vincent

Vincent and Western Power have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding for five project areas.

Budget 2022/23
Posted 06 July 2022 Budget 2022/23

Council has adopted the Budget 2022/23.

Vincent endorses underground power project
Posted 18 May 2022 Vincent endorses underground power project

Council endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding with Western Power.

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Find out more

For questions related to the timing of the projects, site reinstatement or construction related activities, please email mail@vincent.wa.gov.au.

More information is available on the Western Power website.

You can also send your question(s) directly to City of Vincent via undergroundpower@vincent.wa.gov.au.


Make the safe call

If you see a fallen powerline, pole or damage to other electrical infrastructure, always assume it’s live.

Make the safe call and report an electrical emergency immediately to Western Power on 13 13 51 to keep you and your community safe.

If the emergency is life threatening, call emergency services on 000.

If you notice a streetlight isn't working, you can report it here.